Microsoft Appoints Former Microsoft Employee For Antitrust Settlement Oversight Board. Seriously.

Imagine, if you will, a world where criminals go unpunished for their actions. Now, imagine if law-breakers could choose the people who were assigned to watch over their actions in the future. For those with little imagination, you donit have to imagine, because we have an example right here in the US.

In the Microsoft antitrust settlement OKid by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly earlier this month, one of the provisions included an oversight board whose job would be to make sure Microsoft was in compliance with the settlement. While one of the changes asked for by the nine dissenting states in the case was an independent board free of Microsoft control, Judge Kollar-Kotelly elected to leave the oversight board jointly controlled by the DoJ and Microsoft itself, the convicted monopolist.

According to ZDNet, the first two candidates for the three member oversight board have been picked. The way this works is that the DoJ picks one candidate, while Microsoft picks a second. Once those two candidates are approved by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, they will in turn nominate the third member.

The DoJ picked Network General founder Harry Saal. Network General was one of the early network security companies, and it was eventually sold to Network Associates. For its part, Microsoft actually picked a former Microsoft employee to be its nominee, one Franklin Fite. From the ZDNet article:

If Kollar-Kotelly approves the appointments, Fite and Saal would pick the third member of the committee.

Legal experts saw nothing overtly wrong with Microsoft choosing a former employee.

"Itis not as unusual as you would think," said Rich Gray, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based attorney closely watching the Microsoft case. "If you take arbitration panels as an example, itis quite common for each party to choose a member."

In fact, Gray said, the arbitration model in some ways makes sense given that enforcement would be of a settlement agreed to by parties sitting on opposite sides of the table.

"Itis not unusual for parties to pick arbitrators that are favorable to their position," Gray said. "What Microsoft has done is not in my view objectionable."

You can read the full article at ZDNetis Web site.